TORONTO, Ontario -- An Ontario Divisional Court has declared that Canada's dairy policy regarding cheese prices is controlled by a narrow-interest group that is under no obligation to treat outsiders fairly.
According to a release from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), the Court made its statement in a Sept. 25 ruling on a legal challenge launched by CRFA after the dairy industry turned down its request for access to Class 5a permits. The permits would allow restaurants to buy mozzarella at the price paid by frozen pizza makers -- some 30 percent below that paid by restaurants such as pizzerias.
CRFA requested access to the lower-priced cheese in 1998, but it was turned down by the Canadian Milk Supply Management Committee (CMSMC).
CRFA filed its case in Ontario Divisional Court in March 2001 after the Federal Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the CMSMC.
In its Sept. 25 ruling, the Court reaffirmed it has no power to review the dairy industry's decision not to share Class 5a permits with restaurants, but it added that the group responsible for deciding who gains special permits "was a body which contained members who were greatly self-interested."
CRFA vice president of food supply Stephanie Jones said the court ruling proved that decisions made on Canadian dairy prices are unfairly biased.
"It's clear that dairy policy has been hijacked by ... dairy producers who are sitting behind closed doors and carving up the cash," said Jones. "In a democratic society, there needs to be clear government oversight of these important policy decisions that affect not only the restaurant industry, but every Canadian consumer."
CRFA will next take its case to Canada's federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food.
CRFA is Canada's largest hospitality trade association with 16,000 members representing more than 48,000 foodservice outlets.